I was looking back at my newsletter files from 1998 when I found my “Last Word” for August 24th, the day before my daughter Lauren’s first day of school. Today, exactly 12 years later, Lauren started classes for her senior year (Aug. 24, 2010). Time flies! In honor of my daughter and all of our students, I reprint my thoughts from 12 years ago:
“Tomorrow morning our baby will attend her first day of school. Off she’ll go with her brothers and things will never be quite the same again. I don’t think I’ll tell her that on my first day of kindergarten I cried and clung to my mother for dear life. And I doubt I’ll tell her about how my brother, on his first day, just got up when no one was looking and walked home!
With school starting for many of our kids this week, I thought you might enjoy some excerpts from an article written by Erma Bombeck on the day she sent her last child to school. It’s called, “Miss Chalkdust, Please Be Kind.”
“Boy how I had lusted for that day… But there was no exhilaration in my victory, watching ‘the baby’ sit pathetically at the curb. I thought of the woman he was going to – Miss Chalkdust, or whatever. And I wrote, ‘Miss Chalkdust, give him patience and gentleness. Please have a soft lap and a warm smile. I submit to your tender, loving care my son is who is a little shy and a lot stubborn… I may sue you for alienation of affection, but for the moment, God bless you.’ Those small pathetic, scared children who are sitting out on curbs this morning for the first time… might confess that they didn’t have breakfast this morning because they couldn’t swallow. They didn’t sleep well last night. They’re afraid. Afraid they’ll get lost. Afraid they’ll goof up. Afraid they won’t find the straw for their milk. Afraid they’ll lose their lunch money. Afraid they won’t get to the restroom in time – or ever. Afraid someone will laugh at their name. Afraid they won’t find a friend. Afraid the wind will blow their papers out of their hands. Miss Chalkdust, this is a day for all the love you have to give.”
Preparing for another first day of school is a reminder to me of how quickly time passes and how precious the time we have really is. It is so easy to get caught up in the things in life that don’t really matter. As school starts once again, remember to not only drive a little more carefully – but also to invest your time in things that count. Business will get done, carpets will get vacuumed, but children and grandchildren won’t stay small for long.
And, Miss Chalkdust, wherever you are, please be kind.”
Amen – again.